Today’s reading: John 14
Thank you for this community to wrestle in life’s messiness together.
In John 14, the disciples are firing their best questions at Jesus, as he continues to gently reassure and allay their uncertainties about him and God. I almost picture this scene like a class of young children sitting around their teacher as he tells a story.
This chapter invokes themes of doubt and uncertainty. In real life, there are things we are uncertain of every day:
“Will I make a living doing what I love?”
“Will I be able to find and maintain a happy relationship?”
“Am I going to get sick or die?”
“Will the world be at war today?”
“Will I lose my health insurance?”
While this passage does not directly address our specific uncertainties, what stands out is the fact that the disciples are asking questions and Jesus listens to and honors those questions.
Some Christian circles might choose to emphasize the main point here as the need to “have faith” and not worry; that Jesus wants us simply to “trust in God” and everything will be fine. But this passage shows us that the opposite may be true. Faith so often is equated with turning off our minds and operating under an unquestioning belief, and thus, doubt and questioning often get equated with sin, or something you just shouldn’t do. However, our mind is our most evolved tool and here instead of telling the disciples to be quiet or not listening to their question, Jesus comforts them. I’m mainly struck by the mere fact that the Bible includes a passage about the disciples asking questions. Their doubts, fears, and questions are affirmed and included here in the canon. Space is made for their uncertainty. Jesus answers each of their worries and questions in turn.
Life is not simple, and worries and fears aren’t just things we can tell ourselves not to feel. In fact, it’s often when we sincerely allow ourselves to delve into our deepest questions, face some of our thorniest fears, and question ideas we’ve been taught (which may not withstand the test of real life experience) that we grow stronger in resilience and connectedness.
My doubts and worries have been a gift of thinking critically, questioning, holding room for uncertainty in life (which is just reality) – even as applied to my journey of faith and spirituality. This space to question has also been the gift of PAAC – a home and community of others who affirm and share similar doubts and struggles, rather than just settling for certain, easy answers. Thank you for being that gift to me, and may we continue to journey together through the messiness of life as PAACs together.
In what ways have you questioned, doubted, or even changed what you believe?
How have others in your life responded, explicitly or implicitly, to you at those times?
On a day-to-day level, in what ways do you seek certainty and in what ways do you tolerate uncertainty?
Created by: Martin Hsia
About the Author: Martin Hsia is a Clinical Psychologist and therapist with the Cognitive Behavior Therapy Center of Southern California. His specialties include helping people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Insomnia, and Anxiety.
Image by: Emily Morter